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Oswalt’s Path to Reds Blocked by Roster, Payroll

Reds GM Walt Jocketty is sick and tired of your Roy Oswalt rumors:

“It’s all rumors,” he said. “I’m sick and tired of it. We’ve had no serious talks. We’ve had no contact with the player.” (via John Fay, Cincinnati Enquirer)

These rumors Jocketty refers to include this piece by Ken Rosenthal from Monday’s wee hours, which claims the Reds were still in on Oswalt despite the 34-year-old’s inclinations to sign in either St. Louis or Texas. However, there’s more than just Oswalt’s preferences in the way — the Reds would both need to clear a space in the starting rotation and salary from the books in order to make it work.

That means the Reds would probably have to deal reliever Nick Masset ($2.4 million in 2012) and Homer Bailey ($2.425 million in 2012) to clear both the roster space and money necessary to insert Oswalt into their rotation. The prospect of adding some young players through trades and then ostensibly improving the rotation with Oswalt is an intriguing one, to be sure, but the value of Bailey can’t be very high right now — the former top prospect is coming off three straight seasons with an ERA hovering around 4.50 and just one season with a better-than-average FIP. Masset is a decent reliever, capable of ERAs in the 2.00s but more likely to sit in the mid-3.00s, but not one teams will be falling head-over-heels for.

The only other potential salary-clearing option at pitcher is Aroldis Chapman ($2 million in 2012, $5 million beyond), but he isn’t yet slated to join the rotation, sitting behind Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Bailey, Bronson Arroyo and Mike Leake. The Reds could still deal Chapman, sign Oswalt, and bump one of Bailey, Arroyo or Leake to the bullpen. However, for a team which still appears committed to Chapman as a starting pitcher beyond this season, it seems far-fetched that they would go through such maneuvers for one year of Roy Oswalt.

Basically, as much as it seems like the Reds, a contending team with room to improve, could use Roy Oswalt, it just isn’t in the cards. Rumors will persist until Oswalt chooses a team, but the hurdles on his path to Cincinnati just seem too high and too many.